Ever notice those huge bodybuilder guys with the ripped abs and bulging biceps? We all know that when they appear on the beach with their amazing accomplishments, it is because of the many painful hours they have spent in the weight room. Rumor has it that the repeated process of ripping the muscle and feeling pain brings about these fit bodies.
Just like time in the gym hurts at the moment but results can be seen by all in the future, the same is true that God also develops “spiritual muscles” in His children’s lives. God does not inflict pain on those He loves, and He does not cause evil to come upon us. In His awesomeness He takes what our enemy intended for bad and uses it for our good. He trains his people.
The story of Joseph is a great example of a child of God who went through many challenges that prepared him to save the land of Egypt from being wiped out due to famine. I’m sure that you remember Joseph, the favorite son who is given a coat of many colors from his doting father. Because of jealousy, his brothers throw him in a pit, and he is sold into slavery. Muscle of having to forgive is being exercised. Then his master’s wife accuses him of rape, and he is thrown into prison. While he is in prison, God gives him favor, and he is put in charge and made responsible for all that was done there. Again that muscle of forgiveness is being worked on and the leadership skills muscle is also called upon. Two prisoners whom he has helped are released and do not remember him or help him . . . there is that forgiveness exercised AGAIN! When the king has a dream, Joseph is called to interpret it, and he has the wisdom and leadership muscles in place and is ready to go.
I like the way that Hannah Whitall Smith states, “Joseph was sold into Egypt, by the wickedness of his brethren, but God made their wickedness the chariot that carried Joseph to his place of triumph over the Egyptians.” When it was time for Joseph to lead and rule the Egyptians, his spiritual muscles had been trained so that he was equipped for the God-given position. He was ready to save not only Egypt but also his people. After all the trials that Joseph had been through, he realized that God really had the plan all along.
We see this when Joseph tells his adult brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Aren’t you glad that even when it hurts, God is preparing us for what we will need in the future? He is in control, and He loves you.